Holy Cross has an excellent service program. At the end of junior year the students are given an assignment to write an essay about an injustice that they feeling strongly towards. They must do a little research and give their personal reasons for being passionate about the injustice. In July they are given the task of contacting 3 different agencies who deal with that injustice and conducting phone interviews. The end of July they request the organization they want to partner with for the senior year. It is approved and the partnership begins with a video interview and tour of the organization. As the students are taught about the 7 Catholic Social teaching themes they choose the one they believe connects to the injustice they are trying to rectify. They create an awareness project about the agency, injustice and catholic social teaching theme. In October the students begin the analysis part of their journey by creating a relationship map, a tool that aids in understanding the depth and roots of the injustice. It is at this point that they can see an actual plan for service, both direct and social. With their agency representative they plan a project that will help the people effected by the injustice, as well as a way to raise social awareness about the injustice. They also plan a culminating event where they can showcase all of their hard work and present their findings, donations, or awareness to the organization. Through out the entire 8 months they meet with me, their service coordinator, 5 times. Each time they receive another piece of the puzzle. I hold them accountable for getting to the meeting on time with the correct information and evidence of their work. They submit at least 4 projects to me over the course of the 8 months, that together form almost the entire presentation.
Each student gives at least 8 hours of direct service to the organization and 42 hours of service, planning, other direct and social service, along with research and the creation of projects that will bring the entire project together. Many of the students have practiced their presentations in front of me. Today, was the start of the presentations that cover their entire 8 month journey in 15 minutes. They present this project in front of their theology class, teacher, service coordinator, 5 panel members (faculty and staff from the school), as well as their service agency representative.
This project seems like a daunting task. It can be overwhelming at times. Essentially our students are making connections in our community with non-profit organizations and creating a project to fund raise, and raise awareness for the organization. Our students learn organizational skills, time management, empathy for others, understanding, and a new awareness of injustices in our community. My favorite part is the new awareness gained from this experience. It can be amazing. We have had some students who were so moved that they decided to aim their careers in that direction.
Please say a prayer for our students. They worked diligently to arrive at this point. They make me proud!